The ad-tech delegation on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard. (Ben Kelmer/British Embassy Israel)
A delegation of advertising and marketing executives from the United Kingdom came to Israel recently to get acquainted with the local startup landscape and to encourage tech partnerships between the two countries.
Ad-tech in Britain has been an important industry for brands, agencies and publishers for over a decade. But the new technological tricks that Israel’s startups have created are what brought these field leaders to visit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s innovation hubs.
Israeli firms met the nine-person delegation to flaunt their cutting-edge technologies in the areas of visual search and exposure, social media, interactive video platforms, big data, real-time analytics, mobile advertising, content marketing and augmented reality.
“There’s a realization in the UK that Israel is really important for tech startups. We’re always looking for the next technologies to help our clients,” Paul McRudden, head of social media at AMV BBDO, tells ISRAEL21c. “I think there’s an impressive range of technologies here — mobile platforms, video creative tools … it’s surprising just how wide-ranging the different technologies are.”
Other advertising agencies and brands to take part in the visit included MediaCom, MEC, BBH, Manning Gottlieb OMD, Group M and Unreal.
“I’ve heard a great deal about the impressive innovation coming out of Israel. I’m very excited to be exploring collaboration opportunities with ad-tech solutions that could really impact the way we do business at MediaCom,” said Stefan Bardega, managing partner/head of digital at MediaCom, prior to arriving in Israel.
Little Israel and big Britain
Israel’s digital marketing ecosystem is tiny compared to that of the UK. Yet, in a case of David helping Goliath, the British executives came to little Israel in search of technologies to improve brand awareness and consumer engagement.
The visit was organized by the Trade and Economic Office at the Embassy of Israel in London, the UK-Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy in Israel and the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, as part of an ongoing initiative to boost binational strategic technology partnerships.
“We tried to build an agenda that would cater to the requests of each of the participants and give them a feel and vibe of what the Startup Nation is,” Lee Aviram-Shoshany, manager of new media at the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, tells ISRAEL21c.
“I would like them to take home with them the understanding that there are interesting and relevant companies to meet their needs, and that Israel is a place that’s good to do business with.”
While the news media paints one picture of Israel, the advertising executives were introduced to the people who help change the world but aren’t always in the public eye.
The delegation met with more than 200 Israeli companies, toured Israel’s “Silicon Boulevard” (Rothschild Boulevard), and visited the Google campus in Tel Aviv as well as JVP Media Labs in Jerusalem.
“You have a perception from the news, and my experience has totally turned the news on its back,” MediaCom’s Bardega tells ISRAEL21c. “It’s not what I expected at all. It’s a fascinating country in history with a forward-facing futuristic thinking.”
Bardega was blown away by the quantity and quality of startups in Israel. “What’s amazing is the concentration and disproportionate number of startups per capita. It’s a combination of creativity and problem-solving but also a lack of fear and a real confidence about what’s being done. In the UK, we suffer from the opposite.”
Bardega was impressed by the speed in which companies here turn ideas around. “In the UK or US markets, the time between briefing and getting the product out is two to three times longer and more expensive than in Israel,” he says.
Lucy Blechner, digital manager at UK-Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy in Israel, speaks of a “real synergy” between the UK’s globally recognized marketing and advertising markets and Israel’s “great innovation in ad-tech media, social media solutions, processing data and customer analytics.”
“We felt if we could marry the two, British ad agencies could benefit from the Israeli technology that can make communication with their customers more exciting.”
Israeli companies are renowned for breakthroughs in data compression technology and mobile analytics.
Not long ago, Facebook acquired Onavo to improve real engagement with its customers. Apple recently bought PrimeSense, hoping to use the Israeli company’s advanced body-movement tracking technology in future iPhone and iPad versions.
“Absolutely, [I would] consider a partnership. Israel in general seems like a great place to do business,” says McRudden of AMV BBDO. “Tel Aviv feels like a close-knit community, easier to speak to people and make connections. I’ve been impressed how different tech hubs work together. I would like to see Tel Aviv host one of the really big tech conferences. There are brilliant friendly people and a good party energy atmosphere.”
MediaCom’s Bardega says he will likely continue conversations with 30 percent of the companies he met and “will probably work with five percent of them. The quality of businesses has been really impressive.”
“We’ve sent delegations to Silicon Valley and Mobile World Congress. I would suggest that we revise the priority of where we think our partner organizations should visit to discover new businesses to work with,” Bardega tells ISRAEL21c. “I’d put Tel Aviv in the top three places. Whereas it was on the radar before, now it’s a priority that companies need to come here.”